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Woman Sues Farmer Over Cow Incident

Cows Trample Woman


A businesswoman who was trampled by a herd of cows as she was crossing a field is suing a farmer for £1 million.

Shirley McKaskie, 49, a company director, appeared at Preston County Court in a wheelchair as her case for damages began.

Ms McKaskie was walking with her Jack Russell terrier on her way to a pub in the village of Greystoke, near Penrith, Cumbria, when she was injured.

Ms McKaskie, who had moved to the village just nine months before, used a public footpath to cut across a field at Greystoke Gill, a hamlet outside the village, where there were cows belonging to local farmer John Cameron, owner of Greyrigg Farm.

The court heard the cows had calves with them and may have reacted to the dog being in the field.

She managed to get her dog over a stile but was "tossed around" by the herd of 40 Simmental-cross beef cows, each weighing about half a ton.

Ms McKaskie suffered serious head injuries and remembers little of the incident. She was found unconscious by Mr Cameron, who has farmed the land there for more than 30 years. He took her to his farmhouse before she was rushed to hospital to undergo brain surgery.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation following the incident decided to take no action against Mr Cameron. But Ms McKaskie has pursued a civil claim for damages.

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Helen Price from law firm Irwin Mitchell: "Cows are dangerous animals and can cause serious injuries including on occasions death. Landowners and in particularly farmers have a responsibility to members of the public to ensure that their cattle are kept secure.

"Cattle should not be kept in fields where there is a known right of public way. Farmers owe members of the public a duty of care when using a public right of way which crosses over one of their fields and should ensure that they do not put members of the public at risk by keeping bulls in those fields.

"If a cow causes harm to a member of the public where, it could have been avoided by placing the cow in an alternative field then the farmer would be liable for any injuries caused by that cow. There are practical steps which a farmer can take to ensure the safety of the public which would include using fields where there is no right of way over them or if there is no alternative field available separating the right of way from the herd by way of fencing.

"Prominent signs should also be placed up to warn members of the public of the presence of the cattle. Equally, members of the public have a responsibility for their own safety when using the countryside and should stick to the designated rights of way marked by signs."